Friday, March 16, 2007

Has Olmert been pressured into a Munich settlement for Israel?

The currents in the Middle East always flow quickly and darkly underground, and surface when one least expects it...especially when it concerns Israel. And there are several indications that the `Munich moment' I've been predicting for Israel may be approaching.

The first piece of the puzzle is the Bush Administration's apparent acceptance of most of the premises of the Iraq Study Group, and especially the linkage of pressuring Israel into a `comprehensive peace settlement' with the Palestinians with extricating the US from Iraq or achieving stability in the region.

This is a line the Saudis and the Arab League have been pushing for quite some time, so it's no wonder that long time Saudi lobbyist and Bush family consigliere James Baker, who chaired the ISG included it in the report.

The next piece of the puzzle was the Saudi engineered Palestinian summit in Mecca , which totally overturned the Bush Administration's Middle East policy and created a unified terrorist entity out of Hamas and Fatah inthe Palestinian Authority....followed by the almost unprecedented meeting of Iran's President Ahmadinejad and Saudi King Abdullah in Riyadh , kicking another prop out from under the Bush Administration's fantasy of a Sunni Bloc assembled against Shiite Iran.

Finally we have the recent positive noises made by Israeli PM Olmert and his cabinet meeting March 18th and his foreign minister Tzipi Livni regarding the Saudi/Arab League `Peace' Plan and Livni's comments intimating that a `modified Arab proposal' is a good starting point for negotiations.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the plan, it involves a retreat to Israel's indefensible pre`67 borders including giving up East Jerusalem and the Jewish Holy Sites, the unconditional release of thousands of terrorist murderers in Israeli custody and the resettlement of millions of genocidal `refugees' and their decedents in what's left of Israel - in exchange for which the Arab League promises undefined `normal relations' least for the short time Israel would remain in existence.

Nor, as Livni and Olmert fantasize is it merely a starting point to negotiations. No less than Saudi Foreign minister Prince Saud al-Faisal described as “ludicrous” the Israeli leader's recent suggestions that the 2002 plan could be renegotiated or changed in any way when the Arab Summit convenes in Mecca on March 28th.

I think we can pretty much take this to the bank.

My take on this? I think Israeli PM Olmert is under increasing pressure ( if he hasn't already succumbed) by the Bush Administration to deliver Israeli acquiescence to all or most of the Saudi plan, including going to direct final status talks with the new Fatah/Hamas Palestinian government. The Saudis and Jordan appear to have convinced President Bush to lean on Olmert and Israel in exchange for cooperation on the Iraq and Iranian issues.

This, of course, eliminates the whole basis of Oslo and the Road Map - that the main prior conditions for any final status talks with the Palestinians was recognition of Israel and an end to Palestinian terrorism and violence.

In other words, it's no longer `land for peace' any more. It's land for what might be a temporary ceasefire. And given the Arab attitude, any minute deviation from the Saudi Peace Plan will be - naturally- an excuse for further hostilities and terrorism.

With Olmert's situation in Israel and his general weakness of character, it's not to difficult to guess that he might see the resulting turmoil and political upheaval in Israel as a smokescreen to divert the country from things like his corruption trials or the commission convened to apportion responsibility for the problems with the Lebanon War.

As I pointed out a long time ago, these tactics are nothing new and have been used before .

I only hope I'm wrong.

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